Queensland Deputy Premier Andrew Fraser has called on the Liberal National Party (LNP) to change its mind on allowing a conscience vote just hours before debate is to begin on the state’s civil unions bill.

Fraser said it was not too late for LNP members to “do what’s right” and vote with their conscience on the bill, which will allow for the legal recognition of same-sex relationships, as well as the right to declare their civil partnership in a ceremony with family and friends.

“Campbell Newman should put party politics aside and allow his members to vote based on their own moral and ethical beliefs,” he said.

“LNP MP Glen Elmes last week admitted that his conscience is telling him to vote ‘yes’, but the LNP is forcing him to vote ‘no’.

“It’s a sad indictment on the bullying and standover tactics within the LNP when you aren’t even allowed to vote with your conscience on an issue like this.”

Fraser said he respected the right of all MPs to have their own views on civil unions.

“If the LNP MPs individually vote ‘no’ because that’s what their conscience tells them, then so be it. But they shouldn’t have their own values and beliefs trampled on by the unelected backroom bullies of the LNP,” he said.

“This legislation is based on human rights and social values. It should be a matter of conscience, and for the Labor Party it will be.”

The LNP has indicated that all 31 of their MPs will vote against the bill along with six out of seven independents and minor party MPs.

If all the independents and Katter’s Australia Party MPs vote against the bill it will still pass so long as no more than six Labor MPs cross the floor to oppose it.

Fraser said he was expecting the vote to go down to the wire.

“What we do know is that there is a fear within the LNP that some members actually support civil unions, and those votes could get the legislation over the line,” he said.

“This is an issue that shouldn’t be killed off by the backroom operatives in the LNP. Campbell Newman should do what’s right and let LNP members vote with their conscience.”

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